David’s Week 10 FanDuel Lineups: Can I Go Out With A Bang?

Our TeamRankings Football Championship regular season concludes this week. There are three remaining spots in the $25,000 Week 11 Final up for grabs, and they’ll be awarded to the top three scores in this week’s contest.

And as the TRFC contest comes to an end, so do my weekly FanDuel NFL lineup posts.

Parting Observations For 2015

After a successful foray playing NFL on FanDuel for the first time in 2014, I had high hopes for 2015.

We haven’t yet built any daily fantasy projection models or analytical tools here at TeamRankings, so I knew my DFS competitiveness would be handicapped to some degree.

Still, I felt like as long as I could get my hands on some decent player projections and optimization tools, common sense combined with my knowledge of game theory principles would give me a decent edge.

Last year’s success (doubling a $250 bankroll in 8 weeks) also provided encouragement.

However, in 2015 I’ve now lost over half my bankroll in nine weeks, and recent results have not been getting any better.

If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that my general approach last season — whipping up some lineups on Friday morning, and basing my player selections mostly on widely available weekly projections — has not been a winning strategy.

Maybe it never was, and I just got lucky last year. It’s tough to tell given the small sample size of my results to date.

Is DFS Harder Now?

In retrospect, I suppose this shouldn’t be all that surprising. In our pick’em and survivor pool Q&A forums, we often point out that betting markets are very efficient, and it’s difficult to gain a big edge if you’re basing your pick decisions on widely-known information.

For example, I’ve been using numberFire’s player projections as one of my data sources this year. numberFire was already pretty well known in the fantasy community, but now that the site’s been acquired (and heavily promoted) by FanDuel itself, I’ve probably been sharing a core source of research with thousands of people who can compete against me on FanDuel.

In addition, daily fantasy sports have exploded in popularity this season, so it stands to reason that the market may have gotten more efficient compared to last year.

Sure, there are more “squares” or “fish” (or whatever you want to call dumb money) playing DFS now. But it’s pretty much a given that many more big-money pros and syndicates are operating as well, and the structure of DFS lets them enter tons of contests with ease.

As For The Future…

If I make another foray into daily fantasy in the future, it seems that leveraging our historical database and predictive modeling skills here at TeamRankings ought to be part of the plan.

Creating lineups based on our own internal player projections could be fruitful; at least then our lineup choices would probably be more unique, and more likely to pay off in weeks when they have high accuracy and competing projection systems don’t perform quite as well.

However, it’s a big undertaking to create an accurate player projection system, and we’d have to prioritize it against other opportunities.

There are also several analytical tools for DFS that we’ve discussed developing, that don’t seem to exist yet. But if we built them, we’d have to decide whether it would be better to share or sell them on the site, or just to use them to play ourselves, presumably for higher stakes.

In the end, losing sucks, but it’s still been a fun season. I continued to learn a lot about DFS, and we’ll see if I can salvage a winning year with some huge victory as my final hurrah this week. 🙂

Whatever happens this Sunday, I’ll likely continue to play in my own free time, at lower stakes, just so I’m more emotionally invested in the games.

Week 9 Results Recap

  • Initial 2015 NFL Bankroll: $1,000.00
  • Bankroll Entering Week 9: $632.80 (-27.4%)
  • Head to Head & 50/50 Entry Fees: $58 (9.2% of bankroll)
  • Head to Head & 50/50 Net Winnings: -$49.00 (-84% ROI)
  • Tournament Entry Fees: $100 (15.8% of bankroll)
  • Tournament Net Winnings: -$90 (-90% ROI)
  • Total Entry Fees: $158 (25.0% of bankroll)
  • Total Net Winnings: -$139.00 (-88% ROI / -22.0% of bankroll)
  • Bankroll Entering Week 10: $493.80 (-50.6% for the season)

Week 10 Lineups

Head-to-Head & 50/50s

This week I went about my lineup selection a bit differently than in past weeks.

Instead of first using a very focused head-to-head and 50/50 strategy and then moving on to create tournament lineups separately, I created tournament lineups first and then used the players that ended up in multiple tournament lineups in my primary 50/50 lineup.

My reasoning for this was that I’ve noticed in several past weeks that I’ve had multiple good value player selections filling in around my stacks in my tournament lineups. But I rarely had all those value picks in a single lineup, so even though several of them did well, I never got the benefit of their combined positive performances.

Since my previous 50/50 strategy didn’t really seem to be working, I figured switching it up this final week couldn’t hurt.

Here’s my primary lineup for Week 10:


Some notes on this lineup:

  • Brady’s about the closest thing there is to a guaranteed 20 points. I know I said that last week … and he didn’t score 20 … but let’s try this again.
  • Miller & Ingram seemed to be the best consensus values in that not-quite-top-dollar price range, which allows for some splurging elsewhere.
  • Edelman, Crabtree, and Aiken were essentially just RotoWire’s top wide receiver picks. I did do some vetting of these, to make sure that the opponent defenses involved generally were mediocre at best against #1 wide receivers.
  • I actually wanted to use Gronkowski here, but couldn’t afford him. Reed is playing in a projected high scoring game, and gets a lot of targets.
  • Gostkowski is the chalk kicker pick, with New England projected to score a ton of points.
  • The Rams are my simple defensive model’s projected highest score of the week.

Here’s my secondary lineup:


Notes on this lineup:

  • Cousins was projected as a great value by numberFire, but not by RotoWire. I looked at his past scores, and he’s done well in the couple games where things were set up nicely for him (i.e. facing a porous pass defense, at home). This week’s set up well, so I’m giving him a shot.
  • DeAngelo Williams was the most popular running back in Thursday 50/50’s, so he’s a chalk pick. Gurley is also a chalk pick.
  • Thomas, Cooper, and Diggs are all facing defenses that have allowed a lot of yards to #1 and #2 wide receivers, especially Thomas & Diggs.
  • Olsen was a consensus good value at tight end.
  • McManus is the second ranked kicker according to the Fantasypros.com consensus this week (with Gostkowski first).
  • Tampa Bay was my simple defensive model’s best projected value, though not the highest projected score (that’s the Rams).

Tournament Lineups

As is the case most weeks, my first step this week was to come up with some single-team stacks that seem to have the potential for a big day.

Again this week I focused on something pretty basic — picking teams that are projected to score a lot of points. And by “focused on,” I mean I simply picked the 5 teams with the highest projected scores according to the betting markets.

As for the selections of which players to stack, those were almost entirely driven by looking at Football Outsiders’ data on passing yards allowed to different types of receivers. I took players who play positions the opponents have been poor against this season, where possible.

Here’s what I ended up with:

  • Philadelphia (vs. MIA) — Sam Bradford (QB), Jordan Matthews (WR). Miami’s been solid against every position except #1 wide receiver.
  • Baltimore (vs. JAX) — Joe Flacco (QB), Kamar Aiken (WR), Crockett Gilmore (TE). I also intentionally used Jacksonville’s Allen Robinson here, in the hopes that the game might turn into a shootout.
  • New England (@ NYG) — Tom Brady (QB), Julian Edelman (WR), Rob Gronkowski (TE). Yes, the Giants really have been weakest against #1 wide receiver and tight end, the two positions where New England’s probably strongest (among RB/WR/TE).
  • Green Bay (vs. DET) — Aaron Rodgers (QB), James Starks (RB), Devonte Adams (WR). The stack selection here is very speculative. Detroit’s been poorest against #2 wide receivers, which is why I opted for Adams instead of Cobb. Plus Adams has been GB’s most consistent receiver lately, anyway. And at RB, the coaching staff is finally saying that Starks is the #1 back in Green Bay. I wouldn’t play Starks in a 50/50 since it’s possible Lacy will steal a lot of carries from him still. But he seems like a high-upside GPP play.
  • Cincinnati (vs. HOU) — Andy Dalton (QB), AJ Green (WR), Tyler Eifert (TE). Houston has actually been solid against #1 wide receivers this season. Still, Green seems to have higher upside than Marvin Jones.

Filling in around the stacks with solid consensus values, with some emphasis on trying to find players with high upside, here’s the result (click to enlarge):


As usual, I’ll be entering these lineups in a FanDuel Sunday Million tournament, as well as a smaller 100-person or 250-person tournament. The idea is that if they do astronomically well, I’ll be rewarded for that in the Sunday Million, but if they just score in the top 1% or so, I’ll get a better return in the 100-person tournament.

The most likely outcome for any specific tournament lineup is that I win nothing, but with multiple stacks, hopefully at least one will still do well enough to recoup my buy-ins.